12 min read
Sep 23, 2020
Software Buying Tips

3 Essential Software Systems for Fitness Gyms

If you’re opening a fitness gym to take advantage of the great thaw of 2021, you’ll need the right software. Let us help you put together your essential gym software stack.

A.C.
Andrew ConradSenior Content Writer

2020 may not have been the best year to open a fitness gym, but 2021 might be. When it becomes safer to venture back out into public and exercise in the presence of others, it’s a good bet that people who have been stuck at home for the past year will be very excited to have a change of scenery and some new company for their workouts.

If you are preparing to become a gym owner and open a fitness gym—or just planning to make gym management more efficient and profitable for the great recovery—you’ll need the right software.

Unlike choosing tax preparation software, which basically involves picking one program, choosing software for gyms is a little more involved, spanning multiple software categories and dozens of potential products.

That may sound daunting, but we’re here to help.

In this article, we’ll look at three foundational software categories for running a fitness gym—health and fitness club software, accounting software, and marketing software—and then give you a few leading options for each.

In each section we’ll go over why that category is essential for running a gym, and why each of the products listed is a good fit.

graph comparing essential software for fitness gyms
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Health and fitness club software keeps track of members and runs day-to-day operations

The foundation of your gym software stack should be health and fitness club software.

Noah Abbott, owner and coach of Lumos Fitness Collective in Austin, TX, calls his health and fitness management software “critical” and says that it handles everything from scheduling to sales, “and does it pretty seamlessly.”

Health and fitness club software is designed specifically for fitness gyms, and includes essential features like membership management, calendar/scheduling, membership communication, and point-of-sale or online store platforms.

The three options below are designed for fitness gyms (as opposed to golf clubs, dance studios, or a personal trainer business, for example), and have at least 500 reviews in our directory with a rating of 4.5/5 or better.

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Acuity Scheduling

User Rating Reviews
4.8/5 3,650+
screenshot of a calendar with scheduling features in Acuity Scheduling Software

Acuity Scheduling, which was founded in 2006 and is owned by popular website builder Squarespace, bills itself as “the world’s friendliest scheduling software.” Users seem to agree, as 98% of the more than 3,600 reviews on our site are positive.

Acuity works for many types of businesses, but it is designed with fitness gyms in mind, with features like real-time online calendar updates, mobile friendly scheduling, and social media scheduling integrations. It also offers a mobile app.

Pricing: Acuity starts at $14/month for individual users with basic features. A more robust plan for up to six users costs $23/month, and Acuity also offers a free plan with limited features.

Learn more about Acuity Scheduling and read user reviews here.

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Vagaro

User Rating Reviews
4.7/5 2,300+
screenshot of the live-class booking feature in Vagaro software

Vagaro is a California-based gym management software company founded in 2009. Their platform helps run more than 25,000 beauty, wellness, and fitness businesses. Key features for gym owners include custom websites, mobile notifications, and live stream integration.

Pricing: Starts at $25/month and scales up to $85/month based on the size of your staff.

Learn more about Vagaro and read user reviews here.

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SimplyBook.me

User Rating Reviews
4.6/5 790+
gym booking website template offered by the SimplyBook.me software system

SimplyBook.me originated in Iceland in 2001, but is now based in Cyprus. The system is meant to be used by service businesses of many shapes and sizes, including fitness gyms. Key features for gyms include customized booking sites, variable pricing, social media integration, and automated notifications.

Pricing: Starts at $9.90/month for up to 15 users and 100 bookings. SimplyBook.me also offers a limited free plan for businesses with five or fewer users and fewer than 50 bookings per month.

Learn more about SimplyBook.me and read user reviews here.


None of these jump out at you? Click here to browse our complete health and fitness software directory featuring more than 70 products and thousands of authentic user reviews.


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Accounting software keeps track of your finances and makes sure you’re ready for tax time

You probably didn’t set out to open a fitness gym in order to become a billing expert that spends hours crunching numbers and poring over financial spreadsheets. That’s why you need accounting software to keep track of all that stuff for you while you run your gym.

Accounting software helps record and organize all of the money coming in and going out of your gym from revenue, expenses, and payroll. It also helps generate and send gym members invoices, balance your books, generate monthly reports, and more.

The three options below are designed for small businesses like fitness gyms, and scored 92/100 or higher in our Category Leaders for accounting software (methodology below) with an Ease of Use score of at least 19/20.

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KPMG Spark

User Rating Reviews Category Leaders Score Ease-of-Use Score
4.5/5 100+ 98/100 20/20
screenshot showing the main dashboard in KPMG Spark Software

Headquartered in the Netherlands, KPMG is one of the Big Four accounting firms, and Spark is their new (launched in 2018 out of Utah) online accounting solution built for small businesses. 

Key features for small businesses like fitness gyms include a real-time accounting dashboard, professional bookkeeping and tax preparation services, and optional features like payroll and payment processing.

Pricing: Starts at $195/month, which includes a professional bookkeeper.

Learn more about KPMG Spark and read user reviews here.

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Sunrise

User Rating Reviews Category Leaders Score Ease-of-Use Score
4.5/5 200+ 93/100 20/20
screenshot of the transitions section of the Sunrise software system

Formerly known as Billy, this accounting tool was purchased by Utah-based small business lender Lendio in 2019 and rebranded as Sunrise, a full-service bookkeeping and accounting system. Key features for small businesses like fitness gyms include customized invoices, free tax preparation assistance, and personalized bookkeeping. Because of its parent company, Sunrise also makes it easy to secure lending within the app.

Pricing: Starts at $149/month for up to 120 transactions. Sunrise also offers a free, self-service accounting tool with unlimited custom invoices and transactions, with payment processing and bank transfers on a per-transaction fee.

Learn more about Sunrise and read user reviews here.

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Wave

User Rating Reviews Category Leaders Score Ease-of-Use Score
4.4/5 950+ 92/100 19/20
screenshot of a list of transactions in Wave Accounting software

Wave rose to prominence when it was launched in Toronto in 2010 as the first free accounting app, designed for small businesses with less than 10 employees. In 2019, H&R Block acquired Wave and it has expanded to offer a variety of additional services suited for small businesses, including payment processing, payroll, and professional advisor support.

Pricing: Wave offers its accounting, invoicing, and receipt scanning features for free. Credit card processing starts at 2.9% + 30 cents per transaction, and payroll starts at $20/month + $6/employee.

Learn more about Wave and read user reviews here.


None of these jump out at you? Click here to browse our complete accounting software Category Leaders list featuring 15 top-rated products and thousands of authentic user reviews.


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Marketing automation software attracts and retains members, increases revenue

No matter how well managed your fitness gym is and well organized your finances are, you won’t get very far without a stream of new members. Word of mouth can only take you so far, and to stand out from your competition you’ll need a coordinated marketing effort bolstered by technology.

Marketing automation software can help your gym find, engage, and retain members through multiple marketing channels including email, text messages, social media, and websites. Essential features for gyms include lead management, campaign management, and visitor tracking.

The three options below are designed for small businesses like fitness gyms (excluding tools designed for eCommerce), and scored 85/100 or higher in our Category Leaders for marketing automation software (methodology below) with an Ease of Use score of at least 18/20.

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EngageBay

User Rating Reviews Category Leaders Score Ease-of-Use Score
4.6/5 50+ 98/100 19/20
screenshot of the EngageBay software feature allowing users to design a webpage

EngageBay is relatively new to the marketing automation scene, having launched in 2018, but it’s quickly made a good impression on its target market of small business users, as 100% of reviewers on our directory recommended it to a friend or colleague. 

EngageBay features that should be helpful for fitness gyms include customer segmentation, custom web forms, and optional integrated CRM.

Pricing: Starts at $14.99/user/month for the all-in-one (Marketing and CRM) plan. The Marketing plan by itself starts at $12.99/user/month. EngageBay also offers free, limited plans for 1,000 contacts and 1,000 branded emails or less.

Learn more about EngageBay and read user reviews here.

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BenchmarkONE

User Rating Reviews Category Leaders Score Ease-of-Use Score
4.4/5 150+ 86/100 19/20
Screenshot of the process of setting up a customer welcome campaign in BenchmarkONE software

BenchmarkONE, which was known as Hatchbuck until recently, is a St. Louis-based sales and marketing automation platform targeted at a variety of small businesses including health and fitness operations. Dashboard insights, automated follow-up campaigns, and integrated CRM are just a few of the features that make BenchmarkONE a strong choice for fitness gyms.

Pricing: Starts at $49/month for up to 500 contacts and 2,500 emails. The Core plan, which starts at $89/month, adds dashboards, mobile, and other features. Pricing scales based on contacts and emails.

Learn more about BenchmarkONE and read user reviews here.

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Mailchimp

User Rating Reviews Category Leaders Score Ease-of-Use Score
4.5/5 13,000+ 85/100 18/20
screenshot of the automations menu within mailchimp software

If you listen to podcasts, you’ve probably already heard of Atlanta-based Mailchimp. The “all-in-one” marketing platform has become massively popular, as the 13,000+ verified reviews on our site can attest. 

Mailchimp is designed to be used by virtually any type of business, but fitness gyms should especially benefit from its custom landing pages, built-in analytics tools, and personalized recommendations.

Pricing: Starts at $9.99/month for up to 50,000 contacts. Mailchimp also offers a limited free plan for up to 2,000 contacts.

Learn more about Mailchimp and read user reviews here.


None of these jump out at you? Click here to browse our complete marketing automation software Category Leaders list featuring 15 top-rated products and thousands of authentic user reviews.


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Want more software for your gym?

Just like cardio, pushups, and planks can form a solid foundation for a good workout routine, the three gym software categories above can form a solid foundation for your gym operations. But if you want to diversify your workout there are more options.

If you’re looking to build some different muscles, check out these other software solution categories depending on your needs:

Category Leaders Methodology

Category Leaders rankings highlight top-ranked North American software products based on ratings from end-users in five key areas: ease of use, value for money, functionality, customer support, and likelihood to recommend.

To create each Category Leaders ranking, our research team may evaluate hundreds of products in any one category. Only the products with the highest scores become Category Leaders.

Data sources include approved user reviews, public data sources, and data from technology vendors. Please refer to the GetApp Community Guidelines for more information.

Inclusion Criteria

To be eligible for inclusion in a category, products must meet the following criteria:

  • Product has at least 20 unique product reviews published on GetApp within 24 months of the start of the research process for a given report. Two years of reviews provides a sample that we have determined is large enough and recent enough to be valuable to buyers. The criteria is also set low enough to ensure emerging vendors can be represented.

  • Product achieves a minimum normalized rating in each of the 5 key areas (ease of use, value for money, functionality, customer support, and likelihood to recommend) after application of the Category Leaders method for normalizing and weighting review recency (see description under “Scoring” section).

  • Product shows evidence of offering required functionality as demonstrated by publicly-available sources, such as the vendor’s website.

  • Product serves North American users, as demonstrated by product reviews submitted from that region.

  • Product is relevant to software buyers across industries or sectors—in other words, no “niche” solutions that cater exclusively to one specific type of user, as determined by our analysis of user reviews and/or market research.

Scoring

To arrive at a final score per product:

  • Scores are calculated for each of the five dimensions (ease of use, value for money, functionality, customer support, and likelihood to recommend) based on average user ratings. 

  • User ratings in each dimension are provided on a scale of 1 to 5. 

  • Newer ratings are weighted more heavily, and products with more ratings are advantaged over those with fewer, to provide a sample large enough and recent enough to be valuable to buyers.

  • Scores for each dimension are scaled to a maximum of 20 points, resulting in a total maximum score of 100.

Although two products may sometimes receive the same total score when rounding to the nearest integer, true ties are rare when we consider decimal points; however, in the event of a true tie, products with tying scores will be listed in alphabetical order.

Products are represented, included, and/or scored solely based on user reviews and independent of any relationship that GetApp has with vendors.

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